Friday, May 30, 2008

Quick Looks: Good Girls Do

Good Girls Do
By Cathie Linz

Contemporary/Romantic Comedy

The Premise: Julia Wainwright just knows she has left the hippie, bohemian lifestyle she was raised with behind for good after she has spent a few years as a reference librarian in the small Pennsylvania town of Serenity Falls. And then one afternoon, she finds herself dressed in a Little Bo Peep costume trying to keep the mayor’s son from swallowing one of the Library Director’s prized koi, and facing off against Luke Maguire, the town’s bad boy prodigal son who has just zoomed in on his Harley to claim his inheritance. Sparks start flying between the two immediately, much to Julia’s dismay. She likes the orderly life she has worked so hard to make for herself, and there is no room in it for flirtatious black clad bikers who have a strong disregard for rules of any kind. Luke has only come back to town to meet the terms of his father’s will: spend six months running the family pub before deciding to either stay or sell, or get nothing. If Luke discusses the terms with anyone, he loses everything. This is just the latest insult from the man with whom he always had a bad relationship, but Luke needs the money so plays along. Though he has no intention of sticking around once the time is up, he just can’t stay away from Julia. Meanwhile, Julia has some family problems of her own. Her very New-Agey mother Angel, sister Skye, and niece Toni-the-biter have arrived in town and decided to crash at Julia’s place while getting on their feet financially after the failure of their tofu-dog stand in Alaska. Angel has a few secrets of her own she has been keeping, and is trying to find a way to tell her daughter something Julia probably won’t want to hear. With the nosy residents of Serenity Falls keeping tabs on everyone and everything, Julia’s well-ordered world starts flying to bits.

What I liked
: The description of Julia’s life at work was pretty accurate, including (especially?) the wackier bits. Ditto the small town setting. I’m a sucker for eccentric characters, and this book is full of them. The chemistry between Julia and Luke is really good. Better still, the requisite happy ending doesn’t involve a wedding and white picket
fence existence, but instead gives us the happy couple declaring their love and heading off for parts as yet unknown in unwedded bliss on Luke’s Harley. How refreshing!

What I didn’t like: Julia’s sister. She remained a pompous little brat from beginning to end, in spite of the growth shown by the other characters. Based on the sneak preview at the end of the book, she’s going to have her story told in a sequel. I think what she really deserves is a smack.

Overall: This is fast, funny and quick, a great romantic comedy caper.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

On the Book Cart

Some new titles and some reissues are on the cart this week. If you are a fan of Western love stories, you’ll enjoy the two double volume sets from Debbie Macomber. The Manning Sisters contains The Cowboy’s Lady and The Sheriff Takes a Wife, the stories of two sisters from Seattle who move to Montana. The Heart of Texas contains Nell’s Cowboy and Lone Star Baby, stories of remaking families set in the fictional Promise, Texas. Linda Lael Miller’s Last Chance CafĂ© also has a Western setting, featuring a Nevada rancher and divorced mom who’s trying to solve her beloved stepfather’s murder. Calder Promise by Janet Dailey takes us from Montana to Europe and back to the West again as Laura Calder decides between life with a sexy British Earl and a stubborn Texas rancher. The Ozarks are the setting for Hannah Alexander’s Last Resort, where a missing child brings together a woman and the man who has loved her since they were children. Three historicals you might have missed the first time around include two from Amanda Quick: Scandal and Rendezvous. Christina Dodd’s My Favorite Bride rounds out the trio; all are set in the drawing rooms and country estates of England.
New titles include two paranormals: The Oldest Kind of Magic by Ann Macela and The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter. Also new is Christie Craig’s Weddings Can Be Murder, a romance with a strong mystery element. Check the catalog to request the titles you want to start off your summer reading.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Movie Blog comes to VPL!

Julie Stump, the library’s very own movie maven, has launched a new blog! Julie is the librarian responsible for our wonderful, eclectic collection of films, and the VPL Movie Corner will feature short film reviews and a general discussion about movies. You can access the Movie Corner through our Reading Cafe; just go to the library homepage and click the menu tab that says Reading Cafe, and look for the link. If you see a movie you would like to request, you can do it the same way you request books when you use the catalog. Popcorn, anyone?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On the Book Cart

Werewolves, ghosts, and demons inhabit the book cart this week! Kresley Cole’s Dark Desire’s After Dusk has arrived; it’s one her new entries into her Immortals After Dark series. Lindsay Randall’s Phantom is an historical ghost story featuring ancient curses, family scandals, and a passionate battle between good and evil. In Call of the Highland Moon, Kendra Leigh Castle examines what might happen if a kind hearted woman opened her door one cold winter night and took in what she thought was a stray dog, only to wake and find she has rescued an injured werewolf. (I think I’ll stick with adopting from the pound, and hope they screen for werewolves while they look for fleas and heartworm...) The romantic suspense novel Dead Right by Brenda Novak is the story of a twenty year old missing persons case that turns out to be murder and more. If you are looking for something a little more mainstream, try Robin Carr’s Shelter Mountain, the story of a former Marine and a recent victim of domestic violence trying to work through some emotional baggage to form a lasting bond. On a lighter note, Causing Havoc by Lori Foster pairs up an extreme fighter with his long lost sister’s smart-mouthed friend as the two try to prevent a disastrous marriage. As for the title that’s coming home with me this weekend: Good Girls Do, Cathie Linz’s story of a small town librarian whose orderly life is turned upside down when her crazy family shows up, followed in short order by the return of one of the town’s prodigal sons who comes roaring in on his Harley. If you want to be next in line for tale of the feisty librarian and sexy bad boy, or anything else on the cart, reserve your copy today.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quick Looks: Just A Taste

Just a Taste
By Deirdre Martin

Contemporary Romance

The Premise: Vivi Robitaille and her half sister Natalie have moved from France to the U.S. to follow their dream of opening a little bistro. They end up leasing a place in Brooklyn, right across from Dante’s, a family owned Brooklyn institution. Current chef and proprietor Anthony Dante’s wife died just over a year before, and since then he has devoted himself to his work. Dante’s is his life, and he takes everything related to it very, very personally. He’s not happy when the two mademoiselles show up to begin work on their restaurant, especially since Vivi is so opinionated about everything culinary. What starts as nothing but a rivalry between two talented chefs slowly becomes friendly competition and eventually attraction. Both characters, however, have issues from their past to overcome. They also have a few problems in the present: Vivi’s sister is supposed to be handling the finances, but the only place she seems willing to spend money is at Saks; Anthony’s brother and co-owner Michael has just retired from his professional hockey career, and has all sorts of helpful advice on everything from hiring to the menu.
Vivi and Anthony have a lot of baggage to unload before they can live happily ever after.

What I Liked: I really loved the Brooklyn neighborhood setting, and the way the clash of cultures between Vivi and Anthony worked into the story. The supporting characters were very well portrayed, especially Aldo the headwaiter and Insane Lorraine. This story is related to Martin’s series featuring the New York Blades hockey team, and it was fun to see some of the characters and story lines cross over. The chemistry between the hero and heroine was good, particularly all the culinary bickering and one-upmanship.

What I didn’t like: Food! Food! Food! Hard for a dieting blogging librarian to avoid breaking down and ordering take-out!

Overall: Very tasty. I will definitely read more from Deirdre Martin.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quick Looks

You Don’t Know Jack
by Erin McCarthy

Contemporary Romance

The Premise: Jamie Peters has a history of dating losers. She knows this; in fact, she does it on purpose. Jamie is not interested in meeting Mr. Right or in falling in love, since she’s never really gotten over the fact that her father left her mother (and her.) Jamie knows that True Love only leads to heartache, and she’s not interested in more heartache. So when her psychic tells her she’s going to meet her soulmate (during an accident, involving food, no less) she’s not too happy. But months go by and she figures she’s safe, until she runs into Jack Davidson – literally – on the subway. Unbeknownst to Jamie, Jack is actually Jonathon, her roommate Caro’s older brother and former Wall Street boy wonder. Having made his millions, Jack has retired to help run a foundation. Jamie’s social service organization has applied for funds, and the financial wizard can see that her agency has some funny money transactions on its books. So Jack is investigating, and trying not to tip off Jamie, which is hard, since he falls madly in love with her at first sight. Jamie feels the same, but since Jack is far more together than her usual rehabilitation projects, she decides it can never work, and fights the attraction. The truth comes out eventually, as it always does, and Jamie leads Jack on a merry chase.

What I liked: The screwball characters make this a true romantic comedy caper. When the entire plot turns on the prediction of a recently paroled six-foot-four-inch cross dressing psychic, it’s hard to go wrong. The goofy in love relationship between Jack and Jamie is lots of fun too, with great chemistry and the kind of silly misunderstandings that keep the plot perking along.

What I didn’t like: I would have liked to see more of some of the secondary characters, and a little more background on Jack’s previous girlfriend. She seems like a real witch; always a nice way to ratchet up the tension.

Overall: This is a fast, fun read with engaging characters. I really enjoyed it. This is the first book I’ve read by Erin McCarthy, but I will be definitely read more.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On the Book Cart

Fans of Westerns will be happy to know that there are two cowboy themed historicals on the cart this week: A Wanted Man by Linda Lael Miller, and The Loner by Geralyn Dawson. If you prefer debutantes to desperados, pick up one the other historicals: Anne Mallory’s Three Nights of Sin, Renee Bernard’s A Rogue’s Game, Sherry Thomas’ Private Arrangements, or Sylvia Day’s Ask for It. Contemporary options include One Night Stand from Cindy Kirk, The One I Want by Nancy Warren, and Linda Winstead Jones The Guardian, a new entry in Silhouette’s Last Chance Heroes collection. The paranormal meets the romantic comedy caper in Jennifer Stevenson’s The Brass Bed. Hotter After Midnight is a more traditional shapeshifter paranormal by Cynthia Eden.
Last but not least, The Hollow, the second in Nora Roberts The Sign of Seven trilogy, has arrived. Request your copy now!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quick Looks: The Third Circle

The Third Circle
By Amanda Quick

Paranormal/Historical Romance

The Premise: The aurora stone, an old and valuable crystal capable of generating incredibly powerful psychic effects when worked by someone attuned to it, is rumored to be in the collection of the eccentric Lord Delbridge. On the night of one of Lord Delbridge’s infamous private parties, two people show up to steal it. Thaddeus Ware, a mesmerist who is also a private investigator, is there on behalf of the Arcane Society. According to him, the crystal once belonged to Sylvester Jones, the Society’s founder, and the current leadership believes that such a powerful relic should not be floating around loose. Leona Hewitt is a talented crystal worker and direct descendent of Sybil the Sorceress, Sylvester’s contemporary, one time student, and eventual rival alchemist. Leona claims he stole the stone from Sybil, and that it has been in and out of her family’s possession ever since. Thaddeus is willing to believe her, but he is more concerned with the third party that seems to be after the stone, and is willing to kill repeatedly to get it. Once the two of them have (barely) escaped from Delbridge’s home with the crystal, the chase is on, leaving a trail of robberies, kidnappings, and murders.

What I liked: I really enjoy the paranormal framework of the Arcane Society novels. The historical entries in the series are set toward the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, when interest in all things psychic was at its height in England, and this is a good background for the story of the resurgence of the Arcane Society. Details of dress and lifestyle add a great deal of atmosphere without taking over the story. The plot is well paced, and the chemistry between the hero and heroine is good. The arc of their relationship makes sense as well; the various plot twists don’t feel as though they are designed for the express purpose of throwing the lovers together. The secondary characters were vividly drawn, something that is very important to me and that I think really makes or breaks the story.

What I didn’t like: This is nitpicky, but I didn’t think that the death of Lord Delbridge was properly explained, and there could have been more tension in the chase scene between Ware and Lancing. Neither of these things, however, detracted from my enjoyment of the book.

Overall: Another fine entry into the Arcane Society series. So far I have enjoyed both the historical and contemporary titles in the series, and I am looking forward to Running Hot, due to be released in December. The library owns Second Sight, the first of the historical entries, and White Lies and Sizzle and Burn, the two contemporaries. They can be read in any order, but I would start with Second Sight; it provides historical context for the rest of the series.

Monday, May 12, 2008

June Romantic Times on the Shelf

For those of you who are aspiring authors, this month’s RT has two very useful stories in the “Pros on Prose” section. “Writing the Blockbuster” contains tips on creating memorable heros and heroines from such bestselling authors as Christina Dodd and Carly Phillips. In “Agents Perspective” Jessica Faust discusses the need to reveal plot points early on. Other features include an interview with author Jessica Andersen, a discussion of how long a series should go on, a list of the RT award winners, the story of how author Christie Craig found inspiration for a murder mystery at a wedding expo, and an exclusinve prequel to Brenda Novak’s new series, The Last Stand. As always, there are author spotlights, the Fan Forum, and 250 book reviews to help you chose what to read next.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bikini Season
by Sheila Roberts

Contemporary Romance/Chick Lit

The Premise: Four friends of various ages, all members of a cooking club, reach a point when they decide they simply must lose weight. Erin is getting married in six months, and can no longer get her wedding dress zipped. Kizzy has had a health scare, and her doctor tells her to lose some weight or risk far worse than shopping in the plus size section for life. Angela fears her husband will begin an affair with his very attractive co-worker. Megan, brilliant and hardworking attorney, fears she won’t make partner and will spend her life alone, envying the office’s pretty, successful “pencils.” And so the “Teeny Bikini Club” is born. What the women find when they try to change their relationship with food is that they have to rethink many of their other relationships as well. As they change, they have to ask themselves if the people around them are changing or if they are just seeing them clearly for the first time.

What I liked: The characters are all well developed and engaging. The issues they face are realistic and are things we can all relate to. There is a lot of humor in this book as well; one of my favorite passages reads: many times did a girl get married? Only once, Mom used to say, and
then a woman got smart. But Erin didn’t want to get smart. She wanted to
marry Adam. Wait a minute. That hadn’t sounded quite right.

The various ways the women deal with food and temptation were very true to life. I had a lot of “Oh, I’ve done that!” moments. There was a nice mix of backgrounds and careers among the characters – it wasn’t all small town or big city, stay at home mom or career. The different ages really helped with this and was nice to see.

What I didn’t like: It took Erin way to long to wise up to the fact that Adam really wasn’t Dr. McDreamy; I really wanted to shake her a few times! And I would have liked to see more of Megan – in fact, I would really like her to have her own book, since her story seemed to be the least “wrapped up” out of the four.

Overall: I enjoyed this a lot and think it makes for great summer reading. There is something in it for everyone – romance, humor, friendship, and a beautiful setting. I would definitely read other books by this author, and am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

On the Book Cart

Sports fans, rejoice! Two contemporary romances on the cart this week have sports themes. Near and dear to this hockey loving librarian’s heart is Chasing Stanley by Deirdre Martin, here just in time for the Eastern Conference Finals. We also have Squeeze Play, another baseball romance featuring Kate Angell’s Richmond Rogues.
Kasey Michaels’ Dial M for Mischief is a romantic comedy caper featuring actress Jolie Sunshine investigating her father’s suspicious death. This is the first of a trilogy featuring the Sunshine sisters, and it looks full of the author’s signature wit. Billionaires Prefer Blondes by Suzanne Enoch is another blend of romance, murder and mayhem, this one featuring art theft and the supposedly dead reappearing alive and well. Erin McCarthy’s You Don’t Know Jack is a humorous tale of mistaken identity that begins with an ominous prediction by a cross-dressing psychic. Romantic suspense is represented by Anne Stuart’s Fire and Ice, full of kidnappings, assassination attempts and international intrigue, and Jordan Dane’s No One Left to Tell, in which tragedies past and present must be examined to reveal a heartless killer. This week’s only historical entry is the last of Celeste Bradley’s Heiress Brides trilogy, Duke Most Wanted. The one and only paranormal on the cart is Stephanie Rowe’s Date Me Baby One More Time, a story revolving around the search for the Goblet of Eternal Youth, a magical artifact currently masquerading as an espresso machine. Lots of fun reading, check the catalog to request any or all.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Quick Looks: Dockside

by Susan Wiggs

Contemporary Romance

A single mom, Nina Romano is suddenly faced with empty-nest syndrome as her daughter heads off to college. Nina was a teenager when she became pregnant and has dedicated the last 18 years to her daughter, Sonnet. Now at 34, she realizes that this is finally the time to pursue her long-held dreams of buying the local inn and restoring it to its former glory. Unfortunately, she is just a bit too late as it has just been sold.

Greg Bellamy, is a single dad who has dreams of his own – to make a stable home for his divorce-shocked son and pregnant, troubled 18 year old daughter. He needs Nina’s help with the management of the inn, as well as her insight into dealing with his daughter. Their past relationship makes things a bit sticky – and very interesting!

What I liked:
I was impressed by her characterization skills – a really big draw for me. Her secondary characters really come alive and the fact that she intertwines so many stories without losing focus of the main couple is a real feat. I really like knowing that I’ll get to meet these people again and get to explore some of the others in more depth. I also like that the stories are set in the Catskill Mountains.

What I didn’t like:
There were a couple of instances where I would have liked to tell Nina “Just get over yourself already!”

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I can safely say it won’t be the last. Although this is the third book in the Lakeshore Chronicles series, it stands on its own merit and I didn’t feel out of the loop as I might in a trilogy. I’m already looking forward to the fourth in the series, Snowfall at Willow Lake, which came out on the new book cart just recently. If you’d like to start at the series beginning, the first two are Summer at Willow Lake and Winter Lodge. I’m putting them on my own summer reading list.

Reviewed by Michele

Thursday, May 1, 2008

On the Book Cart

Fans of the classic Regency romance will be glad to know that a dozen original Georgette Heyer titles have been reissued, with more planned. The library has just acquired Black Sheep, Cotillion, Lady of Quality, and An Infamous Army. Although one should never judge a book by its cover, I must say that these books are gorgeous, with classic oil paintings reproduced for cover art and beautiful typesetting, all in trade paperback size for easy reading. Other historicals include Gabriel’s Lady by Charlotte Hubbard, set in St. Louis in the late 1800’s, and Anne Gracie’s The Stolen Princess, the story of a princess in disguise and on the run to save her son’s life.
There are two entries in the contemporary romantic suspense category: Rachel Lee’s The Hunted and Wendy Corsi Staub’s Dying Breath. The Hunted features an investigative journalist and an FBI agent taking on some big players in the international sex slave trade. Dying Breath is a classic serial killer story.
Magic is a feature of the historical paranormal Bewitched by Sandra Schwab, and also of the contemporary paranormal Do You Believe in Magic? by Ann Macela. Another kind of magic is the subject of Sharon Sala’s The Healer, the story of a man who has the ability to connect with animals and heal the sick, and who himself becomes one of the hunted. Ghosts and vampires are featured in Kresley Cole’s Dark Deeds at Night’s Edge, Lara Adrian’s Midnight Rising, and Julie Leto’s Phantom Pleasures. Check the catalog to place reserves.